Counter clock world by dick, philip k


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Counter clock world by dick, philip k

  1. 1. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c COUNTER-CLOCK WORLD by Philip K. Dick Copyright 1967 by Philip K. Dick. A Berkeley medallion book. ISBN 0-8398-2485-8 COUNTER-CLOCK WORLD 1 Place there is none; we go backward and forward, and there is no place. --St. Augustine As he glided by the extremely small, out-of-the-way cemetery in his airborne prowl car, late at night, Officer Joseph Tinbane heard unfortunate and familiar sounds. A voice. At once he sent his prowl car up over the spiked iron poles of the badly maintained cemetery fence, descended on the far side, listened. The voice said, muffled and faint, "My name is Mrs. Tilly M. Benton, and I want to get out. Can anybody hear me?" Officer Tinbane flashed his light. The voice came from beneath the grass. As he had expected: Mrs. Tilly M. Benton was underground. Snapping on the microphone of his car radio Tinbane said, "Im at Forest Knolls Cemetery--I think its called--and I have a 1206, here. Better send an ambulance out with a digging crew; from the sound of her voice its urgent." "Chang," the radio said in answer. "Our digging crew will be out before morning. Can you sink a temporary emergency shaft to give her adequate air?
  2. 2. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c Until our crew gets there--say nine or ten A.M." "Ill do the best I can," Tinbane said, and sighed. It meant for him an all- night vigil. And the dim, feeble voice from below begging in its senile way for him to hurry. Begging on and on. Unceasingly. This part of his job he liked least. The cries of the dead; he hated that sound, and he had heard them, the cries, so much, and so many times. Men and women, mostly old but some not so old, sometimes children. And it always took the digging crew so long to get there. Again pressing his mike button, Officer Tinbane said, "Im fed up with this. Id like to be reassigned. Im serious; this is a formal request." Distantly, from beneath the ground, the impotent, ancient female voice called, "Please, somebody; I want to get out. Can you hear me? I know somebodys up there; I can hear you talking." Leaning his head out the open window of his prowl car, Officer Tinbane yelled, "Well be getting you out any time now, lady. Just try to be patient." "What year is this?" the elderly voice called back. "How much time has passed? Is it still 1974? I have to know; please tell me, sir." Tinbane said, "Its 1998." "Oh dear." Dismay. "Well, I suppose I must get used to it." "I guess," Tinbane said, "youll have to." He picked a cigaret butt from the cars ashtray, lit it and pondered. Then, once again, he pressed his mike button. "Id like permission to contact a private vitarium." "Permission denied," his radio said. "Too late at night." "But," he said, "one might happen along anyhow. Several of the bigger ones keep their scout-ambulances heading back and forth all through the night." He had one vitarium in particular in mind, a small one, old-fashioned. Decent in its sales methods. "So late at night its unlikely--" "This man can use the business." Tinbane picked up the vidphone receiver mounted on the cars dashboard. "I want to talk to a Mr. Sebastian Hermes," he told the operator. "You find him; Ill wait. First of all try his place of business, the Flask of Hermes Vitarium; he probably has an all-night relay to his residence." If the poor guy can currently afford it, Tinbane thought. "Call me back as soon as youve located him." He hung up, then, and sat smoking his cigaret. The Flask of Hermes Vitarium consisted primarily of Sebastian Hermes himself, with the help of a meager assortment of five employees. No one got hired at the establishment and no one got fired. As far as Sebastian was concerned these people constituted his family. He had no other, being old, heavy set, and not very likable. They, another, earlier vitarium, had dug him up only ten years ago, and he still felt on him, in the dreary part of the night, the coldness of the grave. Perhaps it was that which made him sympathetic to the plight of the old- born. The firm occupied a small, wooden, rented building which had survived World War Three and even portions of World War Four. However, he was, at this late hour, of course home in bed, asleep in the arms of Lotta, his wife. She had
  3. 3. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c such attractive clinging arms, always bare, always young arms; Lotta was much younger than he: twenty-two years by the non-Hobart Phase method of reckoning, which she went by, not having died and been reborn, as he, so much older, had. The vidphone beside his bed clanged; he reached, by reflex of his profession, to acknowledge it. "A call from Officer Tinbane, Mr. Hermes," his answering girl said brightly. "Yes," he said, listening in the dark, watching the dull little gray screen. A controlled young mans face appeared, familiar to him. "Mr. Hermes, I have a liye one at a hell of a third rate place called Forest Knolls; shes crying to be let out. Can you make it here right away, or should I begin to drill an air vent myself? I have the equipment in my car, of course." Sebastian said, "Ill round up my crew and get there. Give me half an hour. Can she hold out that long?" He switched on a bedside light, groped for pen and paper, trying to recall if he had ever heard of Forest Knolls. "The name." "Mrs. Tilly M. Benton, she says." "Okay," he said, and rang off. Stirring beside him, Lotta said drowsily, "A job call?" "Yes." He dialed the number of Bob Lindy, his engineer. "Want me to fix you some hot sogum?" Lotta asked; she had already gotten out of bed and was stumbling, half-asleep, toward the kitchen. "Fine," he said. "Thanks." The screen glowed, and thereon formed the glum and grumpy, thin and rubbery face of his companys sole technician. "Meet me at a place called Forest Knolls," Sebastian said. "As soon as you can. Will you have to go by the shop for gear, or--" "Ive got it all with me," Lindy grumbled, irritably. "In my own car. Chang." He nodded, broke the connection. Padding back from the kitchen, Lotta said, "The sogum pipe is on. Can I come along?" She found her brush and began expertly combing her mane of heavy dark-brown hair; it hung almost to her waist, and its intense color matched that of her eyes. "I always like to see them brought up. Its such a miracle. I think its the most marvelous sight ive ever watched; it seems to me it fulfills what St. Paul says in the Bible, about Grave, where is thy victory?" She waited hopefully, then, finished with her hair, searched in the bureau drawers for her blue and white ski sweater which she always wore. "Well see," Sebastian said. "If I cant get all the crew we wont be handling this one at all; well have to leave it to the police, or wait for morning and then hope were first." He dialed Dr. Signs number. "Sign residence," a groggy middle-aged familiar female voice said. "Oh, Mr. Hermes. Another job so soon? Cant it wait until morning?" "Well lose it if we wait," Sebastian said. "Im sorry to get him out of bed, but we need the business." He gave her the name of the cemetery and the name of the old-born individual. "Heres your sogum," Lotta said, coming from the kitchen with a ceramic container and ornamented intake tube; she now had her big ski sweater on over her pajamas.
  4. 4. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c He had only one more call to make, this one to the companys pastor, Father Jeramy Faine. Placing the call, he sat precariously on the edge of the bed, dialing with one hand, using the other to hold in place the container of sogum. "You can come with me," he said to Lotta. "Having a woman along might make the old lady--I assume shes old--more comfortable." The vidscreen lit; elderly, dwarfish Father Faine blinked owlishly, as if surprised in the act of a nocturnal debauchery. "Yes, Sebastian," he said, sounding, as always, fully awake; of Sebastians five employees, Father Faine alone seemed perpetually prepared for a call. "Do you know which denomination this old-born is?" "The cop didnt say," Sebastian said. As far as he himself was concerned it didnt much matter; the companys pastor sufficed for all religions, including Jewish and Udi. Although the Uditi, in particular, did not much share this view. Anyhow, Father Faine was what they got, like it or not. "Its settled, then?" Lotta asked. "Were going?" "Yes," he said. "Weve got everyone we need." Bob Lindy to sink the air shaft, put digging tools to work; Dr. Sign to provide prompt--and vital--medical attention; Father Faine to perform the Sacrament of Miraculous Rebirth . . . and then tomorrow during business hours, Cheryl Vale to do the intricate paper work, and the companys salesman, R.C. Buckley, to take the order and set about finding a buyer. That part--the selling end of the business--did not much appeal to him; he reflected on this as he dressed in the vast suit which he customarily wore for cold night calls. R.C., however, seemed to get a bang out of it; he had a philosophy which he called "placement location," a dignified term for managing to pawn off an old-born individual on somebody. It was R.C.s line that he placed the old- borns only in "specially viable, selected environments of proven background," but in fact he sold wherever he could--as long as the price was sufficient to guarantee him his five percent commission. Lotta, trailing after him as he got his greatcoat from the closet, said, "Did you ever read that part of First Corinthians in the N.E.B. translation? I know its getting out of date, but Ive always liked it." "Better get finished dressing," he said gently. "Okay." She nodded dutifully, trotted off to get workpants and the high soft-leather boots which she cherished so much. "Im in the process of memorizing it, because after all I am your wife and it pertains so directly to the work we--I mean you-- do. Listen. Thats how it starts, I mean; Im quoting. Listen. I will unfold a mystery: we shall not all die, but we shall be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call." "A call," Sebastian said meditatively as he waited patiently for her to finish dressing, "that came one day in June of the year 1986." Much, he thought, to everyones surprise--except of course for Alex Hobart himself, who had predicted it, and after whom the anti-time effect had been named. "Im ready," Lotta said proudly; she had on her boots, workpants, sweater, and, he knew, her pajamas under it all; he smiled, thinking of that: she had done it to save time, so as not to detain him. Together, they left their con apt; they ascended by the buildings express
  5. 5. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c elevator to the roof-field and their parked aircar. "Myself," he said to her as he wiped the midnight moisture from the windows of the car, "I prefer the old King James translation." "Ive never read that," she said, childish candor in her voice, as if meaning, But Ill read it; I promise. Sebastian said, "As I recall, in that translation the passage goes, Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep; we shall be changed-- and so on. Something like that. But I remember the behold. I like that better than listen." He started up the motor of the aircar, and they ascended. "Maybe youre right," Lotta said, always agreeable, always willing to look up to him--he was, after all, so much older than she-as an authority. That perpetually pleased him. And it seemed to please her, too. Seated beside her, he patted her on the knee, feeling affection; she thereupon patted him, too, as always: their love for each other passed back and forth between them, without resistance, without difficulty; it was an effortless two-way flow. Young, dedicated Officer Tinbane met them inside the dilapidated spiked iron-pole fence of the cemetery. "Evening, sir," he said to Sebastian, and saluted; for Tinbane every act done while wearing his uniform was official, not to mention impersonal. "Your engineer got here a couple of minutes ago and hes sinking a temporary air-shaft. It was lucky I passed by." The policeman greeted Lotta, seeing her now. "Good evening, Mrs. Hermes. Sorry its so cold; you want to sit m the squad car? The heaters on." "Im fine," Lotta said; craning her neck, she strove to catch sight of Bob Lindy at work. "Is she still talking?" she asked Officer Tinbane. "Chattering away," Tinbane said; he led her and Sebastian, by means of his flashlight, toward the zone of illumination where Bob Lindy already toiled. "First to me; now to your engineer." On his hands and knees, Lindy studied the gauges of the tubeboring rig; he did not look up or greet them, although he evidently was aware of their presence. For Lindy, work came first; socializing ran a late last. "She has relatives, she claims," Officer Tinbane said to Sebastian. "Here; I wrote down what shes been saying; their names and addresses. In Pasadena. But shes senile; she seems confused." He glanced around. "Is your doctor coming for sure? I think hell be needed; Mrs. Benton said something about Brights disease; thats evidently what she died of. So possibly hell need to attach an artificial kidney." Its landing lights on, an aircar set down. Dr. Sign stepped from it, wearing his plastic, heat-enclosing, modern, stylish suit. "So you think youve got a live one," he said to Officer Tinbane; he knelt over the grave of Mrs. Tilly Benton, cocked an ear, then called, "Mrs. Benton, can you hear me? Are you able to breathe?" The faint, indistinct, wavering voice drifted up to them, as Lindy momentarily ceased his drilling. "Its so stuffy, and its dark and Im really very much afraid; Id like to be released to go home as soon as I can. Are you going to rescue me?"
  6. 6. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c Cupping his hands to his mouth, Dr. Sign shouted back, "Were drilling now, Mrs. Benton; just hang on and dont worry; itll only be another minute or so." To Lindy he said, "Didnt you bother to yell down to her?" Lindy growled, "I have my work. Talkings up to you guys and Father Faine." He resumed the drilling. It was almost complete, Sebastian noted; he walked a short distance away, listening, sensing the cemetery and the dead beneath the headstones, the corruptible, as Paul had called them, who, one day, like Mrs. Benton, would put on incorruption. And this mortal, he thought, must put on immortality. And then the saying that is written, he thought, will come to pass. Death is swallowed up in victory. Grave, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting? And so forth. He roamed on, using his flashlight to avoid tripping over headstones; he moved very slowly, and always hearing--but not exactly; not literally, with his ears, but rather inside him--the dim stirrings underground. Others, he thought, who one day soon will be old-born; their flesh and particles are migrating back already, finding their way to their onetime places; he sensed the eternal process, the unending complex activity of the graveyard, and it gave him a thrill of enthusiasm, and of great excitement. Nothing was more profoundly optimistic, more powerful in its momentum of good, than this re-forming of bodies which had, as Paul put it, corrupted away, and now, with the Hobart Phase at work, reversing the corruption. Pauls only error, he reflected, had been to anticipate it in his own lifetime. Those who were presently being old-born had been the last to die: final mortalities before June of 1986. But, according to Alex Hobart, the reversal of time would continue to move backwards, continually sweeping out a greater span; earlier and still earlier deaths would be reversed . . . and, in two thousand years from now, Paul himself would no longer "sleep," as he himself had put it. But by then--long, long before then--Sebastian Hermes and everyone else alive would have dwindled back into waiting wombs, and the mothers who possessed those wombs would have dwindled, too, and so on; assuming, of course, that Hobart was right. That the Phase was not temporary, short in duration, but rather one of the most vast of sidereal processes, occurring every few bfflion years. One final aircar now sputtered to a landing; from it strode short little Father Faine, with his religious books in his briefcase. He nodded pleasantly to Officer Tinbane and said, "Commendable, your hearing her; I hope now you wont have to stand around in the cold any longer." He noted the presence of Lindy at work and Dr. Sign waiting with his black medical bag, and of course Sebastian Hermes. "We can take over now," he informed Officer Tinbane. "Thank you." "Good evening, Father," Tinbane said. "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. Hermes, and you too, Doctor." He glanced then at sour, taciturn Bob Lindy, and did not include him; turning, he walked off in the direction of his squad car. And was quickly off into the night, to patrol the rest of his beat. Coming up to Father Faine, Sebastian said, "You know something? I--hear another one. Somebody very near to being reborn. A matter of days, possibly even hours." I catch a terrific, strong emanation, he said to himself. What must be a umquely vital personality very close by.
  7. 7. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c "Ive got air down to her," Lindy declared; he ceased drilling, shut off the portable, much-depended-on rig, turned now to excavation equipment. "Get ready, Sign." He tapped the earphones which he had put on, the better to hear the person below. "Shes very ill, this one. Chronic and acute." He snapped the autonomic scoops on, and they at once began to toss dirt from their exhaust. As the coffin was lifted up by Sebastian, Dr. Sign and Bob Lindy, Father Faine read aloud from his prayer book, in a suitable commanding and clear voice, so as to be audible to the person within the coffin. "The Lord rewarded me after my righteous dealing, according to the cleanness of my hands did he recompense me. Because I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not forsaken my God, as the wicked dotb. For I have an eye unto all his laws, and will not cast out his commandments from me. I was also uncorrupt before him, and eschewed mine own wickedness. Therefore the Lord rewarded me after my righteous dealing, and according unto the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. With the holy thou shalt be holy--" On and on Father Faine read, as the work progressed. They all knew the psalm by heart, even Bob Lindy; it was their priests favorite on these occasions, being sometimes replaced, as for example by psalm nine, but always returning. Bob Lindy rapidly unscrewed the lid of the coffin; it was cheap synthetic pine, lightweight, and the lid came right off. Instantly Dr. Sign moved forward, bent over the old lady with his stethoscope, listening, talking to her in a low voice. Bob Lindy started up the hot fan, keeping a stream of constant heat on Mrs. Tilly M. Benton; this was vital, this transfer of heat: the old-born were always terribly cold; had, in fact, an inevitable phobia about cold which, as in Sebastians case, often lasted for years after their rebirth. His part of the job temporarily over, Sebastian once again moved about the cemetery, among the graves, listening. Lotta this time tagged after him and insisted on talking. "Isnt it mystical?" she said breathlessly, in her little girls awed voice. "I want to paint it; I wish I could get that expression they have when they first see, when the lid of the coffin is opened. That look. Not joy, not relief; no one particular thing, but a deeper and more--" "Listen," he said, interrupting her. "To what?" She obligingly listened, obviously hearing nothing. Not sensing what he sensed: the enormous _presence_ nearby. Sebastian said, "Were going to have to keep a watch on this strange little place. And I want a complete list--absolutely complete--of everyone buried here." Sometimes, studying the inventory list, he could fathom which it was; he had a virtually psionic gift, this ability to sense in advance a forthcoming oldbirth. "Remind me," he said to his wife, "to call the authorities who operate this place and find out exactly who they have." This invaluably rich storehouse of life, he thought. This onetime graveyard which has become instead a reservoir of reawakening souls. One grave-and one alone-had an especially ornate monument placed above it; he shone his flashlight on the monument, found the name. THOMAS PEAK 1921-1971
  8. 8. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c Sic igitur magni quoque circum moeriia mundi expugnata dabunt labem putresque ruinas. His Latin was not good enough for him to translate the epitaph; he could only guess. A statement about the great things of the earth, all of which fell eventually into corruption and ruin. Well, he thought, that is no longer true, that epitaph. Not about the great things with souls; them especially. I have a hunch, he said to himself, that Thomas Peak--and he evidently had been somebody, to judge by the size and stone-quality of the monument--is the person I sense to be about to return, the person we should watch for. "Peak," he said aloud, to Lotta. "Ive read about him," she said. "In a course I took on Oriental Philosophy. You know who he is--was?" He said, "Was he related to the Anarch by that name?" "Udi," Lotta said. "That Negro cult? Thats overrun the Free Negro Municipality? Run by that demagogue Raymond Roberts? The _Uditi?_ This Thomas Peak buried here?" She examined the dates, nodded. "But it wasnt a racket, in those days, my teacher told us. There really is a Udi experience, I believe. Anyhow, so we were taught at San Jose State. Everyone merges; theres no you and no--" "I know what Udi is," he said testily. "God, now that I know who he is Im not so sure I want to help bring this one back." "But when the Anarch Peak comes back," Lotta said, "hell resume his position as head of Udi and itll stop being a racket." Behind them Bob Lindy said, "You could probably make a fortune by _not_ bringing him back to an unwilling, unwaiting world." He explained, "Im now done with your job-call, here; Sign is inserting one of those hand-me-down electric kidneys and getting her on a stretcher and into his car." He lit a cigaret butt, stood smoking and shivering and meditating. "You think this fella Peaks about to return, Seb?" "Yes," he said. "You know my intimations." Our firm operates at a profit because of them, he meditated; theyre what keep us ahead of the big outfits, make it possible in fact to get any business at all . . . anything, anyhow, above and beyond what the city police throw to us. Lindy said somberly, "Waitll R.C. Buckley hears about this. Hell really go into action on this one; in fact, I suggest you call him right now. The sooner he knows, the sooner he can formulate one of those wild rizzle-drizzle promotion campaigns he concocts." He laughed sharply. "Our man in the graveyard," he said. "Im going to plant a bug here on Peaks grave," Sebastian said after a thoughtful pause. "One thatll both pick up cardiac activity and will transmit a notifying coded signal to us." "Youre that sure," Lindy said, nervously. "I mean, its illegal; if the L.A. police find it, you know--maybe a suspension of our license to operate." His innate Swedish caution emerged, now, and his dubiousness regarding Sebastians
  9. 9. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c psionic intimations. "Forget it," he said. "Youre getting as bad as Lotta." He plomped her friendlily on the back, meaning well. "I always say, Im not going to let the atmosphere of these places get to me; its a technical job having to do with exact location, adequate air supply, digging accurately so you dont saw it in half, then raising it up, getting Dr. Sign to patch its busted parts together." To Lotta he said, "Youre too metaphysical about this, kid. Forget it." Lotta said, "Im married to a man who lay dead down below, once. When I was born, Sebastian was dead, and he remained dead until I was twelve years old." Her voice--odd for her-- was unyielding. "So?" Lindy demanded. "This process," she said, "has given me the only man in the world or on Mars or on Venus that I love or _could_ love. It has been the greatest force in my life." She put her arm around Sebastian, then, and hugged him, hugged his big bulk against her. "Tomorrow," Sebastian said to her. "I want you to pay a visit to Section B of the Peoples Topical Library. Get all the information you can about the Anarch Thomas Peak. Most of it has probably gone into erad by now, but they may have a few terminal typescript manuscripts." "Was he really that important?" Bob Lindy asked. Lotta said, "Yes. But--" She hesitated. "Im scared of the Library, Seb; I really am. You know I am. Its so--oh the hell with it. Ill go." Her voice sank. "There I agree with you," Bob Lindy said. "I dont like that place. And Ive been there exactly once." "Its the Hobart Phase," Sebastian said. "The same force at work that operates here." He turned to Lotta again. "Avoid the Head Librarian, Mavis McGuire." He had run into her several times in the past, and he had been repelled; she had struck him as bitchy, hostile, and mean. "Go right to Section B," he said. God help Lotta, he thought, if she gets fouled up and runs into that McGuire woman. Maybe I should go - . - No, he decided; she can ask for someone else; itll work out all right. Ill just have to take the chance. 2 Man is most correctly defined as a certain intellectual notion eternally made in the divine mind. --Erigena
  10. 10. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c Sunlight ascended and a penetrating mechanical voice declared, "ALl right, Appleford. Time to get up and show em who you are and what you can do. Big man, that Douglas Appleford; everybody acknowledges it--I hear them talking. Big man, big talent, big job. Much admired by the public at large." It paused. "You awake, now?" Appleford, from his bed, said, "Yes." He sat up, batted the sharp-voiced alarm clock at his bedside into nullification. "Good morning," he said to the silent apartment. "Slept well; I hope you did, too." A press of problems tumbled about his disordered mind as he got grouchily from the bed, wandered to the closet for clothing adequately dirty. Supposed to nail down Ludwig Eng, he said to himself. The tasks of tomorrow become the worst tasks of today. Reveal to Eng that only one copy of his great- selling book is left in all the world; the time is coming soon for him to act, to do the job oniy he can do. How would Eng feel? After all, sometimes inventors refused to sit down and do their job. Well, he decided, that actually consisted of an Erad Council problem; theirs, not his. He found a stained, rumpled red shirt; removing his pajama top he got into it. The trousers were not so easy; he had to root through the hamper. And then the packet of whiskers. My ambition, Appleford mused as he padded to the bathroom with the whisker packet, is to cross the W.U.S. by streetcar. Whee. At the bowl he washed his face, then lathered on foam-glue, opened the packet and with adroit slappings managed to convey the whiskers evenly to his chin, jowls, neck; in a moment he had expertly gotten the whiskers to adhere. Im fit now, he decided as he reviewed his countenance in the mirror, to take that streetcar ride; at least as soon as I process my share of sogum. Switching on the automatic sogum pipe--very modern--he accepted a good masculine bundle, sighed contentedly as he glanced over the sports section of the Los Angeles _Times_. Then at last walked to the kitchen and began to lay out soiled dishes. In no time at all he faced a bowl of soup, lamb chops, green peas, Martian blue moss with egg sauce and a cup of hot coffee. These he gathered up, slid the dishes from beneath and around them--of course first checking the windows of the room to be sure no one saw him--and briskly placed the assorted foods in their proper receptacles, which he placed on shelves of the cupboard and in the refrigerator. The time was eight-thirty; he still had fifteen minutes in which to get to work. No need to dwindle himself hurrying; the Peoples Topical Library Section B would be there when he arrived. It had taken him years to work up to B. And now, as a reward, he had to deal tête-a-tête with a bewildering variety of surly, boorish inventors who balked at their assigned--and according to the Erads mandatory--final cleaning of the sole remaining typescript copy of whatever work their name had become associated with--linked by a process which neither he nor the assortment of inventors completely understood. The Council presumably understood why a particular given inventor got stuck with a particular assignment and not some other assignment entirely. For instance, Eng and HOW I MADE MY OWN
  11. 11. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c SWABBLE OUT OF CONVENTIONAL HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS IN MY BASEMENT DURING MY SPARE TIME. Appleford reflected as he glanced over the remainder of the pape. Think of the responsibility. After Eng finished, no more swabbles in all the world, unless those untrustworthy rogues in the F.N.M. had a couple illicitly tucked away. In fact, even though the ter-cop, the terminal copy, of Engs book still remained, he already found it difficult to recall what a swabble did and what it looked like. Square? Small? Or round and huge? Hmm. He put down the pape and rubbed his forehead while he attempted to recall-- tried to conjure up an accurate mental image of the device while it was still theoretically possible to do so. Because as soon as Eng reduced the ter-cop to a heavily inked silk ribbon, half a ream of bond paper, and a folio of fresh carbon paper there existed no chance for him or for anyone else to recall either the book or the mechanism--up to now quite useful--which the book described. That task, however, would probably occupy Eng the rest of the year. Cleaning of the ter-cop had to progress line by line, word by woid; it could not be handled as were the assembled heaps of printed copies. So easy, up until the terminal typescript copy, and then . . . well, to make it worth it to Eng, a really huge salary would be paid him, plus--. By his elbow on the small kitchen table the receiver of the vidphone hopped from its mooring onto the table, and from it came a distant tiny shrill voice. "Goodbye, Doug." A womans voice. Lifting the receiver to his ear he said, "Goodbye." "I love you, Doug," Charise McFadden stated in her breathless, emotion- saturated voice. "Do you love me?" "Yes, I love you, too," he said. "When have I seen you last? I hope it wont be long. Tell me it wont be long." "Most probably tonight," Charise said. "After work. Theres someone I want you to meet, a virtually unknown inventor whos desperately eager to get official eradication for his thesis on, ahem, the psychogenic origins of death by meteor strike. I said that because youre in Section B--" "Tell him to eradicate his thesis himself. At his own expense." "Theres no prestige in that." Her face on the vidscreen earnest, Charise pleaded, "Its really a dreadful piece of theorizing, Doug; its as nutty as the day is long. This oaf, this Lance Arbuthnot--" "Thats his name?" It almost persuaded him. But not quite. In the course of a single day he received many such requests, and every one, without exception, came represented as a socially dangerous piece by a crank inventor with a goofy name. He had held his chair at Section B too long to be easily snared. But still--he had to investigate this; his ethical structure, his responsibility to society, insisted on it. He sighed. "I hear you groaning," Charise said brightly. Appleford said, "As long as hes not from the F.N.M." "Well--he is." She looked--and sounded--guilty. "I think they threw him out, though. Thats why hes here in Los Angeles and not there." Rising to his feet, Douglas Appleford said stiffly, "Hello, Charise. I must leave now for work; I will not and cannot discuss this trivial matter further." And that, as far as he was concerned, ended that.
  12. 12. F T ra n sf o F T ra n sf o PD rm PD rm Y Y Y Y er erABB ABB y y bu bu 2.0 2.0 to to re re he he k k lic lic C C w om w om w w w. w. A B B Y Y.c A B B Y Y.c He hoped. Arriving home to his conapt at the end of his shift, Officer Joe Tinbane found his wife sitting at the breakfast table. Embarrassed, he averted his gaze until she noticed him and rapidly finished filling her cup with hot, dark coffee. "Shame," Bethel said reprovingly. "You should have knocked on the kitchen door." With haughty dignity she carefully placed the orange-juice bottle in the refrigerator, carried the now nearly full box of Happy-Oats to its concealment in the cupboard. "Ill be out of your way in a minute. My victual momentum is now just about complete." However, she took her time. "Im tired," he said, at last seating himself. Bethel placed empty bowls, a glass, a cup, and a plate before him. "Guess what the pape says this morning," she said as she retired discreetly to the living room so that he, too, could disgorge. "That thug fanatic is coming here, that Raymond Roberts person. On a pug." "Hmm," he said, enjoying the hot, liquid taste of coffee as he ruminated it up into his weary mouth. "The Los Angeles chief of police estimates that four _million_ people will turn out to see him; hes performing the sacrament of Divine Unification in Dodger Stadium, and of course itll all be on TV until were ready to go clear out of our minds. All day long--thats what the pape says; Im not making it up." "Four million," Tinbane echoed, thinking, professionally, how many peace officers it would take to handle crowd control when the crowd consisted of that many. Everybody on the force, including Skyway Patrol and special deputies. What a job. He groaned inwardly. "They use those drugs," Bethel said, "for that unification they practice; theres a long article on it, here. The drugs a derivative from DNT; its illegal here, but when he goes to perform the sacrament theyll let him--them all--use it that one time. Because the California law states--" "I know what it states," Tinbane said. "It states that a psychedelic drug can he used in a bona fide religious ceremony." God knew he had had this drummed into him by his superiors. Bethel said, "I have half a mind to go there. And participate. Its the only time, unless we want to fly to, ugh, the F.N.M. And I frankly dont feel much like doing _that_." "You do that," he said, happily disgorging cereal, sliced peaches and milk and sugar, in that order. "Want to come? Itll be exciting. Just think: thousands of people unified into one entity. The Udi, he calls it. Which is everyone and no one. Possessing absolute knowledge because it has no single, limiting viewpoint." She came to the kitchen door, eyes shut. "Well?" "No thanks," Tinbane said, his mouth embarrassingly full. "And dont watch me; you know how I cant stand to have anyone around when Im having victual momentum, even if they cant see me. They might hear me--chewing." He could feel her there; he sensed her resentment. "You never take me anywhere," Bethel said presently. "Okay," he agreed, "I never take you anywhere." He added, "And if I did, it wouldnt be there, to hear about religion." We have enough religious nuts in Los